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Preview: Almost Turkish Recipes

Almost Turkish Recipes

Updated: 2018-04-19T08:53:33.699-07:00


Celery Root and Quince with Olive Oil (Zeytinyağlı Ayvalı Kereviz)


It's the season for celery roots, aka celeriac, and quinces and these two go marvelously well together in this Aegean inspired dish.

1 celery root, ~1,5-2 lb, peeled and cubed
1 quince, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half moons
1 medium onion, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sugar
1-1,5 tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped celery leaves, parsley, or dill

-In a mid size bowl, mix 4 cups of water, lemon juice and flour.
-Place the peeled and diced celery root in the water and stir. If the water doesn't cover the celery root, add more water.
-Heat olive oil in a wide pot and add onions.
-Stir until soft, 8-10 minutes, but do not let them brown.
-Add sugar and stir.
-Add carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes.
-Take the celery out of the lemon-flour water with a slotted spoon and add to the pot. Preserve the water.
-Add quince.
-Add 1 cup of the water with lemon and flour to the pot. Top it with regular hot water until the vegetables are barely covered. (For a different taste, top with orange juice)
-Salt to taste.
-Simmer covered on medium for 20-25 minutes.
-Turn it off and let cool down to room temperature in the pot, covered.
-Once at room temperature, bring it to a serving plate and sprinkle with finely chopped celery leaves, parsley, or dill.

Olive oil dishes are always served at room temperature. They're even more flavorful the second day.
Enjoy with a splash of lemon juice on top, with crusty bread or rice, or on its own. 


Şekerpare Dessert (Şekerpare Tatlısı)


Şekerpare, a traditional Turkish dessert with a Persian name (Şeker-pare: sugar-piece), is sugar cookies soaked in heavy syrup and topped with pistachios or almonds. Şekerpare is commonly made at homes or can be found in every patisserie. There are different versions of this dessert. Some add semolina to the flour and some alternate the nuts to decorate them. The recipe below is my mom’s decades old recipe. She usually makes them for bayrams/eids. For cookies 2 sticks (250 gr.) butter3 cups flour1 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar2 eggs1 tsp baking soda1 tbsp lemon juice½ cup ground pistachiosFor the syrup4 cups sugar5 cups water -Boil 4 cups of sugar with 5 cups of water until thickens. Set aside to cool.-Mix powdered sugar and room temperature butter well.-Add flour and egg. -Mix baking soda with lemon juice and add to the dough and knead well.-Take walnut size pieces and roll them into balls first and then with your palms press them slightly. Make a dent right in the middle of the round cookies with your finger and place them in a slightly greased tray. (The tray shouldn’t be too shallow, because the syrup will go in there as well.)-Bake at 380 F in a preheated oven until golden brown, approximately 35-40 minutes.-Pour the cooled down syrup (must not be warmer than luke warm) from the side of the tray. Never pour it on top of the cookies; they would get mushy.-Put 1 tsp ground pistachios on cookies in the dents. (you can also place whole almonds in the middle of cookies before baking as an alternative to ground pistachios)http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Celery Root with Orange or Tangerine Juice (Portakal ya da Mandalinalı Kereviz)


Celery root, also known as celeriac, is an awesome root highly common and popular in Europe but still waiting for its time in US. It is a different variety than regular celery (stalks). Its root has a bulbous shape and sometimes comes with its leaves on top that resemble giant parsley. It is best during the winter months, but could be found until late March here in the Bay Area. Most American recipes that I've come across recommend boiling and mixing with mashed potatoes or grating raw and adding to salads. Although both are fine ways of cooking with celery root, they're far from how we eat celery root in Turkey. Celery, kereviz in Turkish which comes from karafs in Persian, is cooked in meat stews and soups like potatoes, or in egg-lemon sauces similar to Greek avgolemono sauce, but yet the most common way of preparing celery is the traditional olive oil cooking, i.e., cooked in olive oil usually with carrots, potatoes, and peas, and seldom with quince and orange slices and served luke warm, like this recipe or this one . Celery root with orange or tangerine juice is a "spin-off" from the conventional olive oil variety. The mixing of orange and lemon juices in this dish creates a memorable and delicious tangy flavors.When picking celery roots, avoid both very small and very big ones. You would lose half of the small ones to peeling and the big ones tend to be hollow in the middle. Pick mid-size celery roots, approximately grapefruit-size ones and feel their weight in your hand; they should be heavy. Once peeled celery roots darken fast, so always keep a bowl of water and juice of half a lemon ready to place the peeled roots. If you get them with the greens on top, save them for cooking and decorating.1 medium size celery root, peeled and diced1 onion, finely diced1 big potato, peeled and diced1 carrots, peeled and cut in half or quarter roundsjuice of 2 medium juicy oranges OR 3 tangerines OR 1 orange and 1-2 tangerines2 lemons (juice of half to prevent darkening, rest for cooking depending on your sourness preference)1/4 cup chopped fresh dill1/4 cup olive oil + 2-3 tbsp olive oil1 tsp sugar1-2 tsp salt-Peel the root and place it in a bowl with water and lemon juice to prevent darkening-Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a broad pan and add onions. Cook on medium until soft but don't let them brown.-Add sugar and stir.-Drain the water from celery root.-Add carrots, potatoes, and celery root. Stir for 2-3 minutes until covered with olive oil and warmed up.-Add orange/tangerine juice (whichever combination you choose) and lemon juice (how much lemon juice you will add depends on how tangy you enjoy this dish. It can go from half a lemon juice to one and a half. I love mine tangy and usually add juice of one big lemon, 2-3 tbsp). Also add 1/2 cup of water.-Salt it to your taste.-Add half of the dill. (If you have the root greens you can add 1/8 cup of that at this point as well)-Once it starts to boil, turn it down and cook for 25-30 minutes until celery root is cooked.-Let it cool in the pot covered.-Transfer it to a serving plate. Sprinkle it with 2-3 tbsp olive oil and rest of the dill.-Serve cold or luke warm.Once you get used to cooking this dish, you can experiment with it by adding 1/3 cup of green peas to  it or skipping potatoes or carrots or both. Make it your own. http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Ezo the Bride Soup (Ezo Gelin Çorbası)


Zöhre Bozgeyik, aka Ezo the Bride, was a real person who lived in a small village in the south eastern part of Turkey in the city of Gaziantep close to Syrian border in early 20th century. She was called Ezo the Bride because she was very beautiful and at the age of marriage. Although, there are many variations of Ezo the Bride legend/story mostly as a romance in popular folk culture, her story is one of suffering, patriarchal traditions, and homesickness. Ezo had two marriages both of which were berdel, i.e. bride swapping (a marriage arrangement between two or three families in which they swap daughters in order not to pay for the brides). By the time she made her second marriage to a cousin in Syria, the Turkish Republic was founded and had established borders between the two countries. She died young in Syria, homesick. As per her will she was buried in Syria on a hill overlooking Turkey. There are films based on her hard, unfortunate life, the most celebrated one being Ezo Gelin (Ezo the Bride) (1968), based on a story by well-known poet Behçet Kemal Çağlar and featuring one of the most famous and talented actors of the time Fatma Girik as Ezo, which won the the Second Best Film and the Best Actress awards at the Adana Golden Boll Film Festival in 1969. As for the soup itself, rumor has it that during grim times of poverty Ezo created the soup by using whatever she had left in the house. However, the most important trivia about Ezo Gelin soup is not the bride, but that you cannot find a single Kebapçı (Kebab Restaurant) in Turkey that doesn't serve this soup. Rumor also has it that if you cannot serve this soup you couldn’t get a license for a Kebapçı restaurant in Turkey—just saying! It's the best starter before kebap-you have to have the soup, and whatever you do at home, including my recipe, Ezo Gelin soup is always better at a Kebapçı, even or especially at a sloppy one. Also, it's considered to be a perfect hangover cure, after, of course, the Tripe Soup (İşkembe Çorbası).traditional ingredients:1 cup red lentils1/4 cup bulgur1/4 cup rice1 tbsp pepper paste (if not, substitute with tomato paste)1 tbsp tomato paste1 onion, very finely chopped3 cloves of garlic1/2 tbsp dry mint leaves1 tsp oregano leaves1/4 tsp black pepperpepper flakes, as much as you want1 tbsp olive oil1 tbsp buttersalt~5 cups chicken stock (or water)  (I sometimes hide from the kids grated carrots in the soup)-Place bulgur and rice with 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer once it starts boiling. Check now and then to make sure it doesn’t run out of water. Add hot water if necessary. Turn it of once bulgur and rice is cooked. Drain excessive water. -Heat butter and olive oil in a pot and sauté onions and garlic until very soft, ~8-10 minutes. -Mix in tomato and pepper pastes and cook for 4-5 minutes. -Add 5 cups of chicken stock or water, whichever you’re using. Bring to a boil.-Add washed and rinsed red lentils, rice and bulgur. Simmer for ~20 minutes stirring now and then. -Add dried mint, oregano, and salt. Simmer for another 5 minutes.-The trick is not to put Ezo the Bride soup in a blender. Once everything is cooked and soft, a whisk could work just fine. So after adding the legumes, whisk the soup for a couple of times until smoothened. -Always serve Ezo the Bride with a slice of lemon. Splash of lemon juice will bring the best out of the soup. Optional: Some people like to sizzle the mint with butter instead of adding the spices to the soup. For that, heat olive oil or butter (1 tbsp for 2-3 servings) in a small skillet. When oil starts sizzling (if you're using butter, try not to burn it) add mint and oregano (and 1/2 tsp paprika if you wish) and after approximately 30 seconds remove from the heat. Pour over the soup.Feeling lazy and own a pressure cooker?:Put everything in the pressure cooker and cook for 15 minutes. http://mostly [...]

Green Pea Stew with Beef (Etli Bezelye)


Green pea stew is one of the most common stews in Turkish cuisine. It was usually made in the summer months when the peas are in season and deliciously fresh. However, with freezers becoming staple households people start to pod them and freeze for the winter months. And, no, canned peas are really not a thing in Turkey. The green pea stew is made in three different ways: vegetarian, with ground meat (it's waste of peas if you ask me), and with stew beef. When it is made in the summer, the stew is usually accompanied by cacık, yogurt mixed with minced garlic, grated cucumbers, fresh dill, a bit of olive oil and water, a sauce similar to tzatziki). However, it's good with just plain yogurt as well.

1/2 lb stew beef
1 lb fresh podded green peas (you can use frozen peas as well)
2 carrots, diced or halved about 1/3 or 1/4 inch thick
1 big or two medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced (I love red onions in stews, but any kind is fine)
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
3 tomatoes, grated or diced (fresh tomatoes or great but 1 can diced tomato would do as well)
1 tbsp tomato paste and 1 tbsp pepper paste (available at Middle Eastern stores-if you cannot find it double the amount of tomato paste)
1/2 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
3-4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

-Heat olive oil in a cast iron pot or a heavy bottom pot on medium heat. Add stew beef and cook until it releases and absorbs its juice-approximately 15-20 mins.
-Add onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes.
-Add carrots and tomato&pepper pastes and stir for another five minutes.
-Add tomatoes (or canned tomatoes if you're using them) and bring to a boil.
-Add potatoes, peas (see the note below), 1/3 of the fresh fill and hot water just enough to cover them all.
-Salt and pepper to your taste.
-Once it boils, cover and simmer on low for an hour.
-Sprinkle the remaining fresh dill on top and serve with white or brown rice or a crusty wholesome bread.

Note: I love using fresh peas. I buy them in pod from a local market and pod them or buy them fresh and podded (I like Trader Joe's Fresh English peas!) But you can definitely use frozen peas as well. If so, add them to the stew half an hour before you turn it off.


Easy Phyllo Pie (Kolay Peynirli Börek)


Turkish phyllos are thicker, a quality which makes it much easier to deal with them. The ones sold here at the markets are very starchy (great for desserts), really thin, and dry and break at every chance they have. If you're working on a börek [a general name for all savory phyllo pies in Turkish], that has a specific shape for instance rolls, rose böreks, the job becomes very challenging. Here's a recipe I've been working on, testing and tasting (what a torture!) for a while. Even if phyllos break it is fine, because the recipe requires to break them anyway.

10-12 sheets of phyllo sheets (usually one box has 20 sheets) I'd recommend to follow the instructions on the boxes for dealing with and thawing phyllos.
1 big egg or 2 small ones
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp butter
1 cup white cheese/feta
2-3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
red pepper flakes, optional
1.2 tbsp sesame seeds

-Grease a pan. I used a 9 inch round pan with relatively high sides, but you can use a rectangular or square pan provided the pan is smaller than the phyllo sheets.
-Place two phyllos on the greased bottom. It's ok if they break while doing this; just make sure the bottom is covered.
-Take 4-5 sheets, rip them into 3-4 pieces each and place them in the pan.
-Whisk egg, milk, and oil with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in  bowl.
-With a spoon sprinkle 1/3 of the milky mix on the ripped phyllos.
-Mix crumbled cheese and parsley and pepper flakes if you want some spice, and layer them on top of phyllos.
-Cut the butter into small pieces, and layer them on top of white cheese.
-Take another 4-5 sheets, rip them like the previous ones and layer on top of the cheese.
-Pour another 1/3 of the milky mix on top.
-Cover the pan with 2phyllo sheets,  tuck the overhanging parts of the phyllo in with the help of a knife.
-Pour the remaining milky mixture on top making sure it wets the corners as well.
-Sprinkle the pie with sesame seeds.
-Bake in preheated 390F for 30*40 minutes, or until golden brown.   (image)

Savory Leek Cake (Pırasalı Kek)


This recipe is perfect for overcast winter-ish (We're in Palo Alto, cloudy sky is as winter as it gets!) Sunday afternoons. In Turkey, afternoons like this would be incomplete without a brewing teapot on the stove. And tea, of course, requires a companion. My favorite tea companions are not the sweet ones like cookies and sweet cakes, but savory ones such as boreks, poğaças, or savory cakes (I'm dreaming about a whole new category for the blog on savory cakes). This recipe is a flexible one in terms of ingredients. You can replace mozzarella with white cheese or feta, or cheddar; you canskip the cornmeal and do all flour; you can add herbs; etc. You get the idea. In Turkey this cake is usually vegetarian or sometimes made with beef franks, but I love making this savory cake with Middle Eastern pastrami or pastırma. I think leeks and ME pastrami are a perfect couple. Yet, you can skip that completely or use crispy bacon bits, smoked ham, or whatever kind of meat you like.(You can fortunately find Middle Eastern pastrami made in America, right here in California from Ohanyan's --If you're following this blog for a while you know that I don't do product endorsement, at all!)   2 leeks, washed well and chopped as thinly as possible2 tbsp butter or olive oil (this we will use to cook the leeks)1/3 cup olive oil or sunflower etc (this one is for the cake batter)1 cup corn meal or flour, they both work1 cup flour1 cup plain yogurt1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (you can use a different kind as well)3 eggs2 1/2 tsp baking powder1 tsp aleppo pepper flakes or any spicy pepper flakes (this is optional, but leeks love spice)1 tsp or more salt1/2 tsp black pepper1/4 cup pastrami, chopped in however way/size you prefer-Preheat the oven to 375F.-Heat butter in a frying pan and add the leeks and cook ~10 minutes on medium. Leeks will first sweat, then wilt, and they will finally surrender. If you like browned veggie taste, you can brown them as well but I find the taste to be overwhelming for baking. Take them off the stove and let cool aside.-Beat eggs well with olive oil and yogurt. Add cheese and pastrami then mix. -In a separate bowl, mix flour, corn meal/flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes.-Add the eggy mixture to the dry one, and mix well.-Pour the batter in an oven dish (I used a 10 inch round baking pan)-Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes clean.Set aside to cool for 5 minutes then enjoy with tea or an ice cold pilsner! http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Quince Dessert (Ayva Tatlısı)


It's quince season, and I love that you can find them everywhere in Northern California. Quince is simply unknown to many Americans but for those of us from Europe/MidEast it's an indispensable part of Fall. Quince is an apple-pear like fruit with no sex appeal on paper; it is firm, really really firm (for example, you cannot just take a bite; you need a knife), and tart with a slight hint of sweetness! I like it raw the best, but it is also phenomenal in this highly classic dessert recipe. Quince dessert, my favorite, is a traditional Turkish dessert that uses a sugar based syrup. You can find them in most restaurants and patisseries in fall and winter all around Turkey.Although ingredients and techniques-wise this is a simple recipe, it took me more than half a decade to post it because it is a hard one to perfect. You want the color red, without food coloring though, and the flesh to remain firm, after hours of cooking required for the color, yet not mushy. Here it is:for 6 people3 quinces, pick ones that are yellow with minimal green spots., halved and cored2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups sugar (~1/2 - 3/4 cups sugar per quince, depending how sweet you want it) and yes, that's a lot of sugar but this is a syrup based dessert so...moving onone red apple peel, any kindJuice of one lemon1 1/2 cup water (1/2 cup per quince)4-5 whole cloves-Fill a bowl with enough water to cover quinces when halved. Add lemon juice.-Peel and core the quinces and save the peel and seeds for coloring. Put halved quinces in lemony water to prevent browning.-When all are halved. Place them in a pot, cored part up, and add water, quince and apple skins, quince seeds. They will give the quince a nice red color. Add cloves as well.-On medium to high heat boil them for 10-15 minutes.-Then add sugar and cook for two hours on low heat. After an hour and a half flip the quinces over, cored part facing down.-Place quinces in a serving plate. Toss aside peels, seeds, and cloves with a slotted spoon and pour the syrup on quinces. Set aside to cool down.-Serve with kaymak, qaymak, clotted cream or, in the absence of all these, oh well, whipped cream, topped with chopped walnuts or pistachios.http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Leek Fritters (Pırasa Mücveri)



Although "the" fritter, or mücver in Turkish, dish in Turkish cuisine is the zucchini one (here's the recipe), variations are popular as well. Among the different versions of mücver, leek is the best, if you ask me.

2-3 stalk leeks, washed and trimmed-the end dark green parts

3 eggs
1 cup feta
1/4 cup parsley, chopped finely
1/4 cup mint, chopped finely
3/4 cup flour
black pepper

1/2 cup frying oil (I use olive oil but you can use corn, sun flower, or canola)

-Put the leeks in a food processor or chop them well, very fine
-Mix all the ingredients. If the batter is too runny, add more flour.
-Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
-Drop scoops of batter in hot oil. Make sure they don't touch.
-Fry them on each side until golden brown, 3-4 minutes.
-when done, place fritters on paper towel to drain excessive oil.
-Serve with plain yogurt or garlicy yogurt sauce. 
(For garlicy yogurt sauce beat 1 cup of yogurt with 1 clove of minced garlic and a pinch of salt.)

Sunchokes in Olive Oil (Zeytinyağlı Yer Elması)


This ginger look-alike, hard-to-peel root has many names in English among which I like sunchoke or sunroot the best. I liked the sun in those names but never really understood why a root that probably never sees the sun has that name, but then I saw the plant; it looks like, I thought, sunflower, and to my surprise it apparently is related to the sunflower plant. It is called yer elması, i.e. "earth apple," what French call potato, in Turkish.Sunchokes, although not very common Turkey-wide, are very common in the Aegean and in Istanbul. The sunchoke season here in Northern California and in Turkey run from late November to to early Spring, and you can find them in stores and at farmers' markets. They are great in Turkish olive oil dishes (here's a recipe with orange juice) or raw in salads. This low in calorie, high in fiber root is quite rich when it comes to health benefits. It has a distinct sweet rooty and slightly nutty flavor, but it is not for everyone. I'm the only one who likes it cooked in my house. So you need to try and see whether you like it simmered in olive oil or raw, or like it at all. Below is a very traditional olive oil dish recipe.  serves ~4 people1 lb sunchokes, peeled and left as a whole or diced1 lb baby or regular potatoes1/2 lb pearl onions peeled or one medium onion, finely chopped2 medium carrots, diced or halved or 1 cup baby carrots1/3 cup olive oil (yep, it is an olive oil dish and the amount is normal)1/2 tsp sugarsalt1/2 bunch fresh dilljuice of 1 lemon1/4 cup water-The hardest part of the recipe; peel the sunchokes. It is easier to peel them when left in water for 20-30 minutes beforehand. Leave them as they are or dice them.-Put olive oil in a medium size pot on medium heat.-When heated add pearl onions and sugar. Stir for 4-5 minutes until softened. Do not let them brown.-Add sunchokes, carrots, potatoes, and half of the dill bunch, unchopped, for flavor.-Stir for a minute.-Add water, lemon juice, and salt.-First let it boil, and then simmer it on low heat covered for 30-40 minutes, until cooked. If unsure, pierce sunchokes with a knife.-Let the dish cool down in its pot with the lid on. Transfer to a serving plate only after cooled down.-Serve with finely chopped fresh dill on top.*This is an olive oil dish; it should be served at room temperature or cold. Olive oil dishes tend to taste even better the next day.*I do like sunchokes in olive oil in round shapes, but you can cube or dice all the ingredients. It's just a matter of presentation.For a non-traditional, or an almost Turkish, twist try with a splash of balsamic vinegar. http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Savory Cornmeal Bread (Mısır Ekmeği)


Savory corn meal or corn flour bread was something my mom used to bake for breakfast on cozy/lazy weekends. And hers is a special one because corn bread is usually quite plain. However, to make it into a wholesome breakfast mom added white cheese, olives, parsley, etc. It was always a special treat not only because it was delicious but also because my aunt would bring the corn flour from my dad's hometown, a small town in the Black Sea Region. 
No worries, though, the recipe is so delicious that it works with any corn flour or meal. 
Corn flour can easily get bitter. Store 'it in the fridge or freezer, in an airtight container, or better, buy fresh in small quantities.   
2 cups of corn flour
1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 cup yogurt
3/4 cup oil (corn, sun flower, or light olive oil-if you use olive oil it might make the cake bitter)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (depending on your feta cheese)
1 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and sliced (you can use canned olives but the flavor will not be the same)
1 tsp pepper flakes
1/2 bunch parsley or dill, chopped finely (if you don't have parsley or dill, you can use thyme)

-Beat eggs in a bowl and add all the ingredients. Mix well.
-If the dough seems too dense, lighten it up by adding one table spoon of milk, buttermilk, or yogurt at a time until you have soft dough. This shouldn't be a dense cake.
-Grease the owen dish (I used a 2 inch deep 8.5 x 11.5 inch one)
-Put the dough in the owen dish. Sprinkle black nigella seeds, or sesame seeds on it if you wish.
-Bake approximately for an hour in a preheated owen at 375ºF. After 45 minutes, start checking with a knife every 10 minutes. When the knife comes out clean, the cake is baked.


Spinach Stem Salad (Ispanak Kökü Salatası)


After using spinach leaves in various dishes (you can find some here) or boreks (and here), saving the stems for other dishes and  salads is very common. There are many ways of cooking with spinach stems and here I will be sharing the most common--and healthy, if you ask me--two ways of making salads. Leaves? I used them in a not-so-healthy way and made spinach mushroom etouffee, inspired by the menu of YATS restaurant in Indy!  

Salad #1 Spinach stem salad with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic

spinach stems (use as many bunches or pounds as you wish or you have in hand)
olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
lemon juice or vinegar of your choice

-Trim the stems so that they will remain intact.
-Wash the stems really really well.
-Steam stems in a basket over boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes until wilted but not soggy. Blanch in cold water. Rinse.
-Place them on a plate and sprinkle with minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, and salt. Dress to your taste

Salad #2 Spinach stem salad with yogurt

2 bunches of spinach stems (or use as many bunches or pounds as you wish or you have in hand)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
1-2 tsp olive oil

-Trim the stems so that they will remain intact.
-Wash the stems really really well.
-Steam stems in a basket over boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes until wilted but not soggy. Blanch in cold water. Rinse.
-In a broad pan heat olive oil.
-Add onion and garlic and stir until soft for ~5 minutes.
-Add steamed stems and stir until heated for 1-2 minutes.
-Add salt and pepper.
-Serve with a gallop of yogurt, or even better with garlicy yougurt (1 small clove of garlic minced well and mixed with yogurt) and a slice of crusty bread. Perfect lunch!(image)

Pickled Beets (Pancar Turşusu)


Pickled beets is one of the easiest and, at the same time, the most delicious pickled vegetables of Turkish cuisine. It is considered one of the indispensable mezes of the Turkish raki tables. It is also good with hearty winter dishes such as legumes.

1 bunch beets = ~2lb beets = 3-4 medium size beets
1 tsp salt
11/2  tsp sugar
1/2 cup vinegar (red wine, apple, etc)
3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced

-Wear a dark color shirt or a very old one and put on an apron, beet stain is "the" toughest of all.
-Cut the tops and bottoms of beets and wash them really, really well.
-Place in a pot, cover with water, and cook until soft. (if a knife can go though them easily, then they're cooked.) This may take more or less 30-40 minutes. If you prefer a pressure cooker, set the timer for 15 minutes.
-Once they cool down, peel the beets (which is super easy once they're cooked) and preserve the cooking juice.
-Cut the beets the way you like; you can cube (as in the picture); slice; or halve them.
-Layer beets, garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a glass jar. (To give you an idea three medium size cubed beets fit in an Atlas jar.)
-Fill the jar with preserved beet juice. Close tight and refrigerate.
-It's ready to eat the next day; no need to wait for longer.


Vegetarian Stuffed Tomatoes (Zeytinyağlı Domates Dolması)


In Turkey end-of-summer tomato bounty usually means time to can or jar tomato sauces or to make tomato paste. Unfortunately I am too lazy for any of those. I decided to say good bye to the summer and to the dearest tomatoes that I tremendously enjoyed all summer long with a nice dish. Stuffing tomatoes with rice or ground meat, although not as common as peppers or zucchinis, is common. Using bulgur rather than rice for stuffing is more popular in the central and eastern Turkey. Inspired by dolmas stuffed with bulgur, I tried using quinoa for my tomatoes which makes this recipe an authentic "almost" Turkish one.For dolma it is important to pick firmer tomatoes. I prefer roma tomatoes for stuffing.~15 medium size firm tomatoes1 cup quinoa3 medium size onions, finely chopped1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil (I never hold back olive oil)1/4 cup currants1/4 cup pine nuts1 tsp white granulated sugar1 tsp ground black pepper1 tsp all spice1 tsp dried basil1/2 cup finely chopped parsley2-3 sweet peppers (any color), finely choppedjuice of half lemonsalt-Wash the tomatoes and remove the tops to use later as a lid. Use a spoon or a melon scoop to remove the seeds and inside flesh. Save the flesh. Put the flesh in a food processor or dice them really small.-In a big frying pan heat half of the olive oil.-Add sugar, onion, pine nuts, and peppers, and saute until onions are tender.-Add quinoa, stir for a couple of minutes.-Add 1 cup of pureed tomato from the inside flesh. Cook stirring for 2-3 minutes.-Add 1 cup of hot water. Cover and simmer until the water is soaked. Turn the heat off.-Add the remaining ingredients: black pepper, all spice, basil, parsley, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well.-Once it cools down start stuffing tomatoes with this mix. Do not over stuff them. Leave a little bit of room for quinoa to grow :) Place the tops that you cut earlier on top. That top will keep your dolmas moist. (If you are out of tomatoes and still have more stuffing try zucchinis or potatoes, or just eat the stuffing it's delicious.)-Place the tomato dolmas in a somewhat deep (to prevent mess) oven proof pot or dish facing up.-Pour the remaining olive oil and 1 cup or a little more hot water to cover almost half way up the tomatoes.Now you can either cook them on the stove or bake them in the oven. I honestly think baked dolmas beat the stove cooked ones but it's up to you.For cooking on the stove:-Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes.For baking:-First bring to a boil on the stove and then bake for 40-50 minutes at  400 F. Do not cover.Reminders: It's always a good idea to check the amount of water while cooking/baking. If the water is gone before the cooking is over, add hot water.Let dolmas cool in their pots. Wait until they are luke warm before serving. This is an olive oil dish and like other olive oil dishes it's best when it's cold and even better the next day.http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Beef Stew with Tart Green Plums (Yeşil Erik Tavası)


If you have happened to be around someone from Turkey during the month of May then you probably know how people of Turkey are crazy about their sour green plums. (These tart, crunchy plums dipped in salt are enjoyed as snacks or sometimes as meze with raki/arak/araq throughout the Middle East.) We talk about it--how it's so delicious with salt; pre-order overnight shipments of it; or some determined ones try to schedule trips to Turkey specifically in May. Meanwhile, almost all the Americans I know don't like these green beauties and, even worse, do not understand what the fuss is about, and I am living with one but have no complaints having all the green plums to myself.

This May my thoughtful in-laws who frequent a Middle Eastern market in Arizona came across the plums below and, remembering my obsession, shipped them to me. I was very excited, of course, but whether from Arizonan heat or the trip, they were not crunchy enough to be salt worthy. I decided to cook with them. In the Western parts of Turkey, green plums are used for making compote only when they soften or turn yellow. However, in the Eastern provinces they are frequently used in meat stews for their tartness. Plums stewed with fresh garlic give an incredible flavor to beef. This delicious stew recipe is from Urfa and it made the American here appreciate green plums.  

serves 4-6 people
2 lb stew beef
1 1/2 or 2 lb tart green plums, seeded
1 tbsp red pepper paste (like this) or just use tomato paste
1 tbsp tomato paste
7-9 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
5 medium tomatoes, grated or crushed in a food processor OR 1 can of diced tomatoes
salt, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes

-In a bowl mix stew beef, pepper paste, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes with your hand. Make sure the beef is well coated with pastes and spices.
-Add seeded plums, garlic cloves, and tomatoes.
-Place the mixture in a wide and deep oven-safe casserole or in a cast iron dish.
-Add boiling water to barely cover the meat ~1 cup.
-Cook in a preheated oven at 370F for two hours.
-Serve with rice and/or bread (you'll need both to soak up the divine juice).

You can find green plums at Middle Eastern markets or online Turkish grocery stores.


Fava Bean and Pea Salad (İç Bakla ve Bezelye Salatası)


1 lb fresh fava beans in pod
1/2 lb fresh peas in pod
3 green onions, finely chopped
~1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
~1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
~1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
~1/3 cup crumbled feta (optional)

(image) dressing
juice of one lemon
4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced (optional)

-Pod and boil fava beans in salted water for 2-5 minutes. The cooking time depends on the freshness of the beans. Blanch and poke the skin to squeeze the beans out. This is time consuming, and if you ask me not worth it. Some people find fava skins to be bitter, but I don't. If anything skins make the salad a bit chewy and that is fine. So, I leave them on.   

-Pod the peas and use them as is or boil them in salted water for a couple of minutes and blanch.
-Mix beans and peas with all the greens. 
-Add cheese (Although I've never had this salad with white cheese in Turkey, I think beans&peas are great with white cheese.)
-Again, usually in Turkey this salad is served with a simple lemon juice+olive oil+salt dressing. I add a clove of garlic to the traditional dressing. 

There's absolutely nothing written in stone; you can use more or less of anything or add red peppers, arugula, or even pickles. For example, usually this salad is made with stirred onions in Turkey, but I prefer freshness of green onions to stir fried ones.


Dandelion with Olive Oil (Hindiba)


If cooking every dish (sweet and savory) in olive oil is one of the most important characteristics of the incredibly healthy  Cretan cuisine, boiling all greens including weeds is the other one. The Cretan diet, widely accepted to be one of the healthiest diets, became an indispensable part of Turkish Aegean cuisine through Cretan-Turks who were compulsorily exchanged for the Turkish Greeks of Anatolia starting from May 1st, 1923 based on the treaty of Lausanne. As a result of this agreement between Turkish and Greek governments, half a million Greeks left Turkey and approximately one million Turks left Greek. And through this non-humanitarian and tragic population exchange which caused thousands of dislocated families and hatred between nations the west coast of Turkish cooking is enriched by this cuisine.  This is a very simple recipe that captures the essence of Cretan cooking: greens and olive oil. Dandelion greens, like many other weeds, are widely consumed in Cretan cuisine with a simple olive oil dressing and tarator sauce. Eren Aksahin in an article about Turks of Crete (read the article) quotes a little anecdote about Creteans' infatuation with greens:"A Cretan goes into a field with a cow. The son of the field’s owner runs to his father, and says “Papa! A cow and a Cretan are in the field! What should I do?”  His father answers: “don’t bother the cow, she’ll eat until she’s full and leave. But the Cretan will gather everything before he leaves. So chase the Cretan out!”1 bunch dandelion greens1/4 cup olive oiljuice of 1 lemon1 clove of garlicsalt-Boil enough water for your dandelion bunch in a pot with some salt.-Add dandelions and cook for 5-7 minutes, depending on freshness of the weed.-Blanch dandelions for ~3 minutes. -Squeeze excessive water and lay on a plate. -Mix olive oil, lemon juice, and crushed/minced garlic with salt and pour over the dandelions. (Adjust salt, lemon, and garlic to your taste)for tarator sauce2 slices of white bread (cannot stress the importance of the whiteness of bread for this sauce), crusts removed1-2 cloves of garlicjuice of 1 lemon or 2 tbsp vinegar1/2 cup ground walnuts (although walnut is more common, some prefer pinenut for tarator sauce)4-5 tbsp olive oilsalt-Soak bread slices in 1/4 cup water, squeeze excessive water.-Put all in a food processor and pulse until smooth. The sauce should not be very runny or thick as a paste. Add a couple of drops of water or lemon juice to loosen up.http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Priest's Beef Stew (Papaz Yahnisi)


Since I haven't posted a new recipe in a while, I wanted to break the silence with a heavily delicious or deliciously heavy one: priest's beef stew or ragout. This succulent ragout recipe comes from the Aegean part of Turkey, and judging by the name, priest--not "yahni" since it is of Persian origin for meat and onion dishes--the dish must be originally Greek. Another clue about its Greek roots is the use of cinnamon. Although it is an indispensable spice in Turkish cooking, cinnamon is used for the most part in desserts, not in savory dishes and most definitely not in stews. But here we go, this stew asks for cinnamon and allspice, and in the end the beef braised for hours with these spices is just fantastic. If you are a meat eater, you will want to write this recipe down.     serves 4-6, depending on the appetite 2 lb stew beef1 lb pearl onions, peeled (you can use frozen ones, but I really think they don't taste the same)3 tbsp butter1 head of garlic,8-10 cloves, don't panic it's good3 tbsp red wine vinegar or 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar1 can of diced tomatoes or 3 tomatoes, grated1 tsp sugar1 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp allspice, ground1 tsp sugar1 tsp or more salt1 tsp black pepper1/4 c flour 2 c hot waterparsley, finely chopped to garnish-Place stew beef on a flat surface (a big plate or a tray), sprinkle flour on top, and make sure each piece is coated.-Melt the butter in a stew pot, add stew beef, and on medium heat saute until they are all browned and crispy outside: ~6-7 minutes.-Add pearl onions and garlic and stir for  another 6-7 minutes. At this point flour on the beef might stick to the bottom of the pot, but that's fine. Keep stirring; it'll go away once you add tomatoes and water.-Add diced or grated tomatoes (I always put diced tomatoes in a food processor or a hand blender and pulse 2-3 seconds to have a smoother texture), spices, salt, and boiling water.-Once it bubbles, turn the heat down to low, cover ans simmer for at least 2 hours, and get a beer &  go outside because the delicious smell will drive you crazy. -Serve with rice and/or crusty bread.I started making papaz yahnisi based on a recipe that I read from a Turkish cookbook back in the day when I didn't have a blog and wasn't careful about my recipe sources. and now I cannot remember the name of the writer or the book. If I remember, I'll definitely cite it. http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Green Peppers in Vinegar and Garlic Sauce (Sirkeli Biber)


I'm in Turkey and enjoying all the food I cannot find in the US and frequenting my hometown's twice-a-week farmers' market for fresh produce. It seems like July is a wonderful month for peppers of all kinds. Inspired by the exuberance of fresh peppers I am giving a simple recipe for a very popular and delicious salad/appetizer/meze, you name it. The ingredients for the sauce are garlic, olive oil, and vinegar, and how much you will add of each depends completely on your preference. If you cannot handle garlic or vinegar well, you can go light on them. I like this salad medium garlicy, yet very vinegary, whereas my cousin's version is quite garlicy and to so much vinegary. The point is you have to decide on the amount of garlic and vinegar.This salad is usually made during barbecue party. First the peppers are roasted, and then while the meat is cooking the salad is prepared. green or red peppers, as much as you want/havegarlicvinegar (white or red grape, or apple), something strongolive oilYou can make this salad two different ways; by either boiling or roasting the peppers. Roasted peppers taste, for sure, better, but if you don't have enough time boiled ones are no bad either.-(1) Roast the green peppers in the oven or on the grill. Once cooled, peel the skin by hand. With some peppers this process is very easy, but with some it is challenging. Do your best, and don't worry if you cannot take all the skin off. After skinning cut the top off and seed the pepper.-(2) Pierce the peppers with a fork or a sharp knife once or twice and cook in boiling water for a couple of minutes, until soft but not falling apart. Cut the tops and seed them. -Whichever method you follow (1) or (2), place peppers in a dish where peppers would not be overcrowded. Add salt, olive oil, vinegar, and crushed garlic. use olive oil as if you're dressing a salad.For garlic you can use from 1/2 clove to 2 cloves for one pepperFor vinegar you can use from 3 tbsp to something between 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup-Serve with meat or on its own with fresh baked bread.The salad keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days, and gets even better in time.http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]



Of all the sweets that come from Turkey baklava is probably the most famous and delicious. Although there is no consensus on the history of the dessert, it is believed that baklava descended from an Assyrian dessert consisting of dried fruit in between two layers of pastry. There are numerous debates about the "original origin" of baklava, most famously between Speros Vryonis, professor of Greek and Byzantine history, and Charles Perry, food historian and journalist. While Vryonis claims the dessert has Byzantine roots, Perry insists on its Turkish/Turkic origin.Regardless of its origin, baklava, a closer version to the one we know today (with multiple layers of thin pastry), came from Damascus to the Turkish city of Antep (Gaziantep), and from Antep to the rest of Anatolia. By the end of its journey it came to perfection at the Ottoman palace kitchens. It became so prominent in the palace tradition that by the end of 17th century a ceremony called "baklava alayi (parade)," during which janissaries walked to the palace on the 15th day of Ramadan to fetch trays of baklava--one for every ten soldiers--  prepared by the palace cooks, was already established.Today baklava is still a specialty and sold at stores that specializes only on baklava. In these baklava stores one can find different versions of layered thin pastry desserts with different ingredients and different cuts. Turkish baklava is made by very thin layers of pastry made from wheat starch and a sugary syrup that does not contain honey or spices.Antep being the city that spread baklava to the rest of Turkey preserves its prestige over the dessert. Almost all baklava store owners/chefs in Istanbul or elsewhere claim to be from Antep, the baklava and pistachio capital of Turkey.Among the Turks the biggest debate over baklava seems to be the stuffing: some like walnut and some pistachio, and it can be a heated one. However, the hazelnut baklava from the Black Sea region is also noteworthy.Being totally on the walnut camp, I will give you an easy-to-make walnut baklava recipe that you can make with store bought phyllo dough.1 box store bought thin phllyo dough (every brand has different number of sheets in box. As long as you have ~20 sheets, it fine)2 1/3 sticks of butter3 cups of walnut, chopped (not coarse and not minced)for the syrup3 cups of water3 cups of sugar (if you like it really sweet go for 3 and a half cup)2 tbsp lemon juice (to prevent crystallization of sugar)-Thaw the phyllo dough following the instructions on the package.-Grease the baklava tray. The tray can be slightly smaller than phyllo sheets.-Melt the butter.-Place a layer of phyllo sheet at the bottom and drizzle 1 tbsp butter on top.-Spread the half of the phyllo sheets on the tray, buttering them one by one.-Sprinkle the ground walnuts on top of the middle layer.-Cover the walnuts with the other half of phyllo sheets, again buttering every single one.-When the sheets are finished, with the help of a knife push the edges inwards onto the try.Now the hardest part: cutting the baklava. Baklava has to be cut before it is baked. The most traditional cut is the diamond cut. But you can go for triangles or simple squares.  -For diamond cut. First find the sharpest knife in your kitchen and cut baklava into 4 or 5 equal pieces lengthwise. Then cut it diagonally at 1 inch intervals.-Drizzle the remaining butter on top.-Bake baklava in a preheated oven at 350F until golden brown.-For[...]

Stuffed Chard with Bulgur and Cheese / Lorlu Pazı Sarma



Stuffing green leaves with ground meat, herby rice, or grains is a common practice in Turkish cuisine. Although not as popular as grape leaves, stuffed chard is a staple dish for both Black Sea region and eastern Anatolia. The two different types of stuffed chard I had had were with ground meat and cracked corn, so I was very excited when I found this recipe for stuffed chard in a book in Yasemin's kitchen. The recipe is from Sahrap Soysal, a popular Turkish chef, food connoisseur and writer, whose book Bir Yemek Masalı won several Gourmand Awards in 2004 in Spain, including "Best Local Cookery Book in the World." I adopted the recipe from the English translation of this award-winning book, A Cookery Tale.

for four people
2 bunch green chard
1 cup fine bulgur
1 very generous cup of cottage cheese or ricotta
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 big onion, grated
2 tbsp dry basil
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp butter

-Cut the stems of chard.
-Boil some water in a big pot. And cook chard leaves in boiling water for ~2 minutes four or five leaves at a time.
-Put the leaves on a colander and let cool.
-In a bowl put the bulgur and add 1 cup of boling water. Wait until bulgur soaks the water.
-Add the rest of the ingredients to bulgur except for butter and mix well .
-Place a chard leaf on a flat surface (kitchen counter, tray, plate, etc.) the veiny part up. Cut the big vein in the middle out-otherwise it'd be hard to roll.
-Depending on the size of the leaf put 1-3 tbsp of stuffing on the top, not the stem, part of the leaf and roll like a cigar. Chard is much easier to deal with than grape leaves, and far more forgiving.
-Place the rolls side by side in an order in an oven proof dish.
-Place the small pieces of butter evenly on top.
-Pour 2 cups of hot water on top.  
-Bake rolls in a preheated oven at 385F for approximately an hour checking frequently after half an hour to make sure it still has some water.
-Serve rolls hot with yogurt, and even better, with garlicy yogurt (=1 clove of smashed garlic mixed well with 2 cups of yogurt)


Fennel with Meat (Etli Rezene)


The Aegean cuisine in Turkey is known for its greens.  It is truly unbelievable how many different green plants/weeds and in how many different ways the Aegeans can cook. Among all those greens fennel is a popular one. Although it has numerous health benefits, fennel has a distinct flavor resembling anise that a lot of people, including myself, cannot stand. Mainly for this reason, although intrigued, I avoided cooking with fennel for a long time. When I finally decided to give it a try, my first choice of recipe was a very traditional and a very basic one which would not require any kind of spice to cover up that distinct flavor. Although I was prepared for the worse, I have to admit that I was nicely surprised. This is a very easy-to-make, very light recipe with fantastic flavors. I follow a Turkish blogger's, Miss Cilek's recipe.1 bulb fennel, washed and coarsely chopped1/2 lb stew beef (the original recipe asks for lamb on bone, but for me one strong smell was enough)1 bunch green onion, finely chopped2 tbsp butter (this is my addition; the original recipe does not ask for any)salt and pepper-Place the stew beef at the bottom of a pot so that they won't be on top of each other.-Put first green onion then fennel on top and finish with the butter. -Add salt and black pepper and cover.-Cook on low for ~1 hour. -Serve with rice or bread.   http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Spinach Stem with Wheat Berries (Buğdaylı Ispanak Kökü)


The move is finally over and we have been Californians for almost two months now. I am loving the Palo Alto farmer's markets (who wouldn't when you can buy a celery root for a dollar!) and cooking a lot; just not blogging. Finally emergence of fresh spinach at the market made it. In Turkey, when you have a bunch of fresh spinach you can cook a variety of different dishes with green spinach leaves: such as "the" spinach dish,   spinach dish known as "the bachelors' dish", or delicious börek/phyllo dough dish. Before cooking any of these dishes, you pinch off the stems and save them for other equally scrumptious dishes. They are great in salads, in stir fry, or in avgolemono sauce. The following simple recipe is inspired by the traditional spinach dish or the most common spinach dish, for which you basically stir spinach, onion, and tomatoes with rice. I replaced leaves with stems and rice with soft wheat berries. It is simply delicious. More spinach stem recipes to follow.stems of 1 lb spinach1 medium onion, finely chopped2 cloves of garlic, minced3 tomatoes, grated or diced (if you can find them, if not use 2 tbsp tomato paste or 1 can of diced tomato)3 tbsp olive oil1/2 tsp white sugar1 tsp lemon juice1 c cooked wheat berries (you can substitute wheat berries with brown rice)salt1 tsp spicy pepper flakes, if you wishhot water-Soak wheat berries in water over nights. The next day wash them well and boil them until soft with lots of water (they soak incredible amount of water)-Wash the spinach stems well, discard any hard spots at the ends, and cut them into med pieces.-Heat olive oil in a pot and stir onion and garlic until soft.-Add tomato and cook for at least 5 minutes.-Add lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper flakes. Stir once.-Add spinach stem, and stir for a couple of minutes.-Add cooked wheat berries, stir, and pour hot water to barely cover everything.-Cook until spinach stems are soft on low to med.-Serve warm or cold.http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Dried Eggplant Dolma (Kuru Patlıcan Dolması)


I have been receiving complaints from readers, friends, and friends of friends about lack of new recipes on the blog. I know; it's been a while. I've been busy and lazy at the same time. But here we go.Dried eggplant dolma is a popular winter dish mainly in the southeastern part of Turkey. Reasonable size eggplant are cut in half, carved, put on strings, and dried out in the sun to cherish eggplant deliciousness in the winter. You can find strings of dried eggplants easily at Turkish or Middle Eastern markets. The number of dried eggplants on a string vary between 30-40. Why am I cooking dried eggplants when we can find tasty fresh ones? We're moving across the country and I am cooking our pantry one item at a time!1 string of dried eggplants (~30)for the stuffing1 lb ground beef2 medium onions, finely chopped6 cloves of garlic, minced3 tbsp tomato paste1 tbsp spicy pepper paste (it's ok not to use it if you cannot find it)1 medium tomato, grated or 1/2 cup tomato sauce1 cup white rice1/2 cup bulgur (if not, substitute with rice)juice of one lemon (In the southeast, in stead of lemon they use a thick sour sauce made from plums, similar to pomegranate sauce)  1 tbsp dry sumac (obviously sourness is a must with this dish)1 tsp black pepper (or more--I usually go up to 1 tbsp)1 tbsp dry mint flakes1 tsp cumin1/4 cup water2 tbsp olive oilsaltfor the sauce3-4 tbsp butter3 tomatoes, grated or 1 can of petite diced tomatohot water-Boil a big pot of water and add dried eggplants. Cook for ~ 20 minutes or until they soften enough that a fork can go through easily. Rinse in cold water and set aside.-Mix all the stuffing ingredients well.-With the help of your hands or a small spoon, stuff eggplants. Do not stuff all the way; leave room on top to fold the top. This way you will secure overflowing. (Look at the first picture; do not stuff your dolmas like the one on the left. The one on the right is the good model!)-Place dolmas side by side in a wide pot.-Pour grated tomatoes and sprinkle butter pieces. Add hot water to cover dolmas. On top of the pot, place a flat-ish plate upside down. It will hold dolmas down when you're cooking them.-Bring to a boil. Cover and turn down to low for 30-35 minutes or until rice is cooked.-Let it sit in the pot for 5 minutes and serve with crusty bread.http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]

Semolina Sponge Cake (Revani)


If you are a libertine, don’t turn from the cup of pure wineIf you are wise, take your glass in the direction of Galata…Pious one, should you see those Frankish (European) boys but onceYou would never cast an eye on the houris in paradise…Everywhere is filled with paradisiacal boys and girls, Revani,Who enters it looks no more to the highest heaven(from The Age of Beloveds by Walter Andrews and Mehmet Kalpakli)  These lines which depict the life in Istanbul of 16th century are from a poem by Revani, an Ottoman poet, an infamous libertine who lived in late 15th and early 16th centuries. And revani the dessert is said to be named after Revani the poet. The association is not rooted in Revani’s notorious ways in entertainment or financial matters (he never gets any positive remarks on his character in biographies), but in his famous unique and novel work İşretname (Book of Wassail) which deals with anything related to Ottoman carousals: the wine, best seasons for drinking wine, wine glasses, flagons, young men serving wine, and, of course, food. E.J.W. Gibb in his colossal work on Ottoman poetry defines Revani as a “thorough-going hedonist” but not a “mystic.” In “Book of Wassail” he proves Gibb right. Revani gives a long list of delicasies in his lines and with vivid metaphors likens them to serpents (sausages), pearl (rice), or blond beauty (saffron) (see Gibb for more info on “Book of Wassail”). Although he wrote couplet after couplet praising pleasures of food, I don’t know why particularly revani, a sponge cake, a semolina sponge cake to be accurate, soaked in syrup is named after Revani. for the cake2/3 cup semolina1/3 cup flour (white)5 eggs, separated 2/3 cup sugar2 tbsp or less orange zest (optional)for the syrup2 1/2 cup water2 1/2 cup sugar 2 tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp lemon zest (optional)for the topcoconut flakes orground pistachio -Beat egg yolk with sugar until creamy. -Add orange zest, semolina, and flour gradually as your mixing them all with a whisker or a mixer.-In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they turn into firm foam and add them into the cake. -Grease a deep cake pan 9-10 inch in diameter.-Pour the batter and bake in a preheated oven at 350F for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown. Check with a knife or a toothpick to make sure the cake is done. They should come out clean.-Meanwhile, mix sugar, water, and lemon juice + zest in a pot and bring to a boil. Then simmer on medium for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. -When revani is still in the cake pan and warm, not hot but warm, cut in into diamond shape slices or in squares. -Pour the lukewarm syrup on top with a scoop slowly, waiting the cake to soak it in.-Serve diamond with coconut flakes or ground pistachio on top. Revani is also good with vanilla ice cream or clotted cream on the side.       http://mostly almost turkish recipes/[...]